adult | alcohol | brandy | canning | frozen | fruit | general tips & tricks | jam | peaches | preserved foods | preserves | recipe | seasonal | traditional with a twist | vanilla

Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

August 12, 2013

A big ol' box of Washington State peaches!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks of that Presidents of the United States of America song when I see peaches… please… someone… anyone? I sing it to myself in the supermarket. At the farmer’s market. Anywhere I see peaches. And I distinctly remember the video; specifically seeing it on MTV at my aunt & uncle’s house when I was in 9th grade. I believe that was when Jenny McCarthy was the host of Singled Out, not to mention when the show was actually popular.

Damn I’m old.

I don’t mind being “old”, though. Not really. I mean, let’s face it… 32 isn’t really old. I’m being facetious here. But either way, old people are my favorite kinds of people, so I don’t care about “getting old.” I’d rather spend my time knitting, baking & listening to Wingy Manone or Dean Martin with the Golden Girls than hanging out with a bunch of gum-snapping Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift fans ANY DAY.

Beautiful fresh peaches.. turned into a vanilla brandied peach jam!A quick wash & dry does a lot to make them even more beautiful…


And let’s face it: some of my favorite pastimes used to be considered old fashioned. It used to be (and not that long ago) that baking pies or making jam were outdated concepts. That “home-y” domestic stuff was something that was relegated to history books or old WWII propaganda posters. It was old fashioned. It was for old ladies. It wasn’t cool for a while there to have anything to do with the kitchen. It was the in thing to act as if you couldn’t even boil water or stored sweaters in your stove. Blame Carrie Bradshaw, blame whoever you want, but it was a fact. Women who stayed home & liked to be domestic were once frowned upon, looked at as boring or even worse, dubbed “ambition-less.” That sucks. I’m just glad things have changed. I’m glad there are people like Erica from P.S. I Made This who show that you can be quirky, crafty & love to cook but also be cool, & have a wicked sense of fashion. Not to mention that a career can be made from it! Whoda thunk it. Move over, Martha, there’s more of us.

Box of fresh peaches from Washington State Stone Fruit!

Preserving wholesome fresh fruit was a way of life for generations gone by. It found its way back. A canning resurgence is sweeping the nation, as people everywhere bottle up the bounties of the season and celebrate an art that’s once again au courant. We invite you to join the movement, roll up your sleeves, and enjoy the sweet taste of summer all year long.

Tree ripe peach!

And that’s why I’m so proud to say that I’m a “Canbassador“! Yes, like the royal baby, I too have a title. The Washington State Stone Fruit Commission asked me to be a part of their food blogger canning advocates program back in July, and I am so excited! They sent me tons of beautiful fruit to put up… bringing new meaning to the blog post title “Millions of peaches, peaches for me”, and this my first post about it. Washington State is the perfect place to grow things, particularly stone fruit, because of the warm days & cool evenings. Mornings come early in the west, meaning they have an hour more of sunlight than southern-grown fruit. Yet when combined with the chilly night air, the fruits get a chance to “rest” & those sugars that develop in the warmth can be balanced out with some of the natural acidity in the fruit. Basically, they grow some fantastic fruits! Honestly- every single person who ate one of these peaches fresh insisted it was the best one they ever had.

This recipe is one I came up with, but there are a ton on their website, Sweet Preservation. I’m more than happy to encourage other folks to start canning & I’m so glad they asked me to join them in doing so. I’m also glad that I have the skills to create things like peach jam with vanilla beans & brandy on a very gloomy & rainy- but yet deliciously cool- summer day.

Because as the last weeks of summer roll in, it’s nice to preserve every last bit of it that we can. Like these massive, gorgeous Washington State peaches!

Vanilla brandied peach jam. A decadent way to put up a little bit of summer.


Makes 3 – 4 pints or 6 -8  half pints


  • 5-6 large peaches, peeled (you should have about 4 1/2 – 5 cups chopped peaches)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • 1 lemon, zested & juiced
  • 1 package Certo liquid pectin


  1. Chop peeled peaches (really easy to get the skin off, click here for directions- & by the way, save the skin!) and add them plus the sugar to a large, non-reactive saucepan or pot. Stir together so that they mix & juice begins to show. Bring the mixture to a boil and add both vanilla bean & the vanilla “caviar”, as well as the lemon zest and juice. Let jam continue to cook for about fifteen minutes. If the fruit hasn’t broken down much after that time is up, use a potato masher or immersion blender. Careful- the jam will splatter.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean using tongs. Add pectin and bring to a rolling boil for a full five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat & stir in the brandy. Ladle into warm jars. Wipe rims, place lids, screw on bands. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  4. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. When the jars are cooled, check the seal by pressing on the top of the jar. If there’s no movement, the jar has sealed. If it moves, pop it in the fridge & use it now. Store any sealed jars up to one year in a cool, dark place… if it lasts that long.

Brandied peaches are a thing, so why isn’t brandy peach jam?

Vanilla brandied peach jam.I make my own labels… but go here for free downloadable ones!

Seriously. Have other people done this? I’m sure they have.

I can’t be the only one to have imagined this deliciousness.

And you know what? I feel like brandy is the red-headed stepchild of liquors. Bourbon gets all the glory, whiskey comes in a close second. They’re both enjoying a kind of much-deserved renaissance lately. Vodka & tequila are the party girls; ready for anything. But brandy? Brandy is relegated to the old folks it seems, and that isn’t fair. Because brandy is delicious. And it smells delicious. And those old folks are awesome, so they’re probably on to something anyway.

Although… all that said… bourbon can be substituted for the brandy in this recipe.

Peach jam made with brandy & vanilla bean.

And just imagine cracking open a jar of this on a chilly fall night. Or a snowy December night. The peaches are a burst of summer & the brandy with vanilla is warming & comforting. What would you eat with it? ‘Cause I have a secret for you. If you whip up some biscuits & homemade whipped cream, a la this post, and just add some of this jam to it, you’ve got an instant (and much fancier) individual peach cobbler. It also makes a great filling for hand pies, especially with brandy whipped cream. Have I got your attention yet?

If you’re not into jam, or brandy, or using them in desserts… then here’s another option: canned sliced peaches. They’re very easy to make & since a few peaches go a long way (each one of my three pint & a half jars contains about 3 1/2 large peaches), they last a long time since they’re shelf-stable. Just use this recipe that I posted a while back, yet add one whole scraped vanilla bean to the sugar & water before boiling. That’s it! They’re great for adding to oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream or just eating right out of the jar. The vanilla bean takes it from regular old canned peaches to something extra special, but it can totally be left out.

Canned sliced peaches in vanilla bean syrup.

You can also check out the Sweet Preservation website & try one of their awesome recipes. They have a load of amazing ideas, so there’s bound to be one that strikes your fancy. And then you can use one of their adorable customizable pre-made labels (all made/designed by Etsy craftspeople!) to decorate your jars. If you’re new to canning, take a look at this post I wrote last summer on the basics of water bath canning.

But if you really aren’t into any of that, then here’s one more option for using up fresh peaches (if you have a ton & are getting sick of eating them, canning them or baking with them): freeze them. Simply wash them, peel them (not necessary- just a matter of preference), pit & slice them, then lay them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment in a single layer. Freeze them for 2-4 hours that way, then remove from the paper & place in a (labeled) sealable sandwich baggie. Make sure all the air is out & they’ll last about 3-4 months before the start of freezer burn. They won’t be as firm as fresh peaches, they’ll definitely be mushier, but they will also definitely taste just as good!

How to freeze peaches!

If you, too, have been canning up a storm this summer, add the Sweet Preservation “Of Course I Canned!” badge to your blog. Click here to view & save the file, then add it.

Of Course I Canned!!

*Disclaimer: Washington State Stone Fruit commission asked me to be a part of their “Canbassador” program. I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post, other than receiving fresh peaches. All opinions are mine & mine alone. Recipe(s) are mine unless otherwise indicated.

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  1. Yay for The Golden Girls!!! The idea of what some people think is old, is really kind of lame. If being crafty, domestic, listening to my Nana’s music, and watching classic movies is old; well then I don’t want to be young 😛 Couldn’t think of the reverse “I don’t Wanna Grow Up”
    My mom just asked if I wanted peaches this weekend! She bought a bunch, and they were starting to get a little soft. This would’ve been perfect to try this weekend! Oh well have to grab some myself

  2. I LOVE that silly song! My bestie and I used to sing it all the time and drive our school friends insane! Drunken peaches made with brandy is actually a traditional Italian dessert (you basically just let the peaches sit in brandy a few hours with a pinch of sugar and spices, and then you serve them with whipped cream), and it’s sooooo good, so I am sure this jam is the bomb! I think I might have to try it!

  3. Haha… my friends & I used to sing it on the school bus! Too funny.

    Yeah the jam is pretty amazing, I have to say. I bet it’s going to be even more excellent later on this winter, after there’s no sign of fresh fruit.

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